It was our turn to host this year and rather than do our usual American comfort food, I opted to mix things up and do a more fanciful Mexican dinner. One day, I was listening to a story on NPR about an American ex-pat who lived in Mexico City and wrote a book about his experiences, including food, which is obviously a large part of Mexican culture. When he mentioned pozole verde, I knew I had to find a recipe for it. Unlike the traditional pozole I grew up with, this version uses a sauce involving tomatillos and pumpkin seeds. It sounded perfect. I set about my task of finding as authentic a recipe as I could find. Considering my mom was not familiar with this dish, it became a rather daunting task. I ended up settling on one from Epicurious, mostly because it sounded about right, was healthy, and didn't cost a fortune to make.
I made the pozole on Friday night since we wouldn't be getting back to the house until later in the evening AND these kinds of soups always end up being better the next day. I think the most surprising thing about this soup was that it was so spicy. To make the sauce, you use two whole jalapeño peppers, seeds and all, and then puree them with your tomatillos, cilantro, and onion. It turned beautifully. The color of the soup is so vibrant and then paired with all the toppings--cabbage, avocado, radishes, queso fresco--it was practically a piece of art.
I next went on to making the toppings for the sopes. The first time I had these, my mom made them with oysters and they were heavenly. I am not that good...yet. I opted for a refried bean base, chorizo and potato topping, and salsa de jitomate topping and queso fresco. You can get the recipe from the Food Network. I was not crazy about the masa cake, but I think in retrospect, I will not try to make the dough ahead of time. It was dry and crumbly, even though I wrapped it in a wet paper towel, let it sit at room temperature for a while before using it, and added a little more water before frying. Mom--I'm still the apprentice. You are still the master.
Finally, I made a pumpkin bread pudding with dark chocolate chips. I got the recipe from Epicurious, but altered a bit after reading the reviews. Normally, I wouldn't mess with a recipe my first time around, but the overwhelming opinion was that it was a necessity. At the request of Tobias, I added the chocolate chips (this is what happens when you give a sugar addict a choice between pumpkin and chocolate--he says, "both"). I cut down the amount of butter used to coat the bread, used about 1.5 times the amount of bread needed and threw in an extra egg, a little more cream and whole milk, and spices for good measure. I kept the sugar at just 1/2 a cup as I knew the chocolate would more than make up for it. I used Dagoba organic 70% chocolate chips throughout and spinkled more on top for good measure. I threw that together in the morning, wrapped it tightly, and threw it in the refrigerator. I don't know if you're supposed to do that, but I did, and it tasted good.
Happy Fall everyone!